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How to Press on Like Paul

Notes & Transcripts

How to Press on Like Paul

Philippians 3:15-21

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 23, 2012

*Last week we studied Paul’s passionate devotion to reach God’s goals for his life. He began by comparing his religious life before Christ to the abundant new life he found in Christ. And in vs. 7&8, Paul said:

7. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

8. But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ . . .

*Then in vs. 13&14, Paul said:

13. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

14. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

*Now God wants us to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

*This is Paul’s message to us in vs. 15-21, where he said:

15. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

16. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

17. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

18. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19. whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame who set their mind on earthly things.

20. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

21. who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

*How can we “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus?” -- Paul shows us 4 ways.

1. First, ask God to reveal the errors in our thinking.

*In vs. 15, Paul assures us that God will reveal the errors in our thinking. Here Paul said: “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”

*King David certainly saw the need for this kind of correction from the Lord. In Psalm 19, David’s prayer included this question:

12. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.

13. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.

*King David had a great desire for the Lord to point out the flaws in his thinking. And he depended on God to do it. Listen to David in Psalm 25. There he prayed:

4. Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.

5. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.

*David was willing to let God reveal the errors in his thinking. -- How about us?

*I remember what the Lord told David (and us) in Psalm 32. God says:

8. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.

9. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.

*The Lord is trying to warn us here against wrong thinking. Sometimes we are stubborn enough and foolish enough to head off in our own direction.

*“You’re stubborn as a mule!” My Daddy used to tell me that all the time, because I was stubborn as a mule. But Christians: God is working in our lives to reveal the errors in our thinking. So Paul said, “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”

*How can we “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus?” -- Ask God to reveal the errors in our thinking.

2. And follow our Godly examples.

*This was the Apostle Paul’s guidance to us in vs. 16&17, where he said”

16. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

17. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

*Paul wasn’t just a truth giver. -- He was a truth liver!

*And one of the greatest challenges I face as your pastor is to be more of the example God wants me to be. When I look at the devotion of Paul and many other great Christians, it’s obvious that I fall far short. But God has given us many devoted believers worth following.

*On this last day of the Week of Prayer for State Missions and the Georgia Barnette Offering for State Missions, Miss Georgia is a good example for us.

*Who was Georgia Barnette? -- She was born in Virginia in 1861, and grew up in a Christian home, but did not make her profession of faith until she was in her twenties. From that time on Georgia grew spiritually and showed a deep love for Jesus.

*After 2 years of full-time service in Virginia, and 3 in Atlanta, Georgia was surprised by an invitation to serve as missionary for the First Baptist Church in New Orleans. Later she wrote, “Feeling that it was the leadership of the Lord, on Oct. 16, 1901, with goodbye said and tears shed, I made my way to the First Baptist Church, New Orleans.”

*Three years later, she began serving as the first full-time leader of the Louisiana Women’s Missionary Union. Over the next 28 years, Georgia Barnette travelled over 180,000 miles, serving the Lord in Louisiana. She travelled by train, surrey, buggy, wagon, horseback, pirogue and walking. Georgia once said, “I’ve traveled everywhere in the state of Louisiana and every way except mule back.”

*That faithful service is why the state missions offering was named in her honor in 1936. (1)

*Think about the many other good examples God has given us to follow.

-The world may never know their names, but they made a world of difference in our lives. And God wants us to follow their examples.

*How can we “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus?” -- Follow our Godly examples.

3. And mourn over the enemies of the cross.

*God wants us to grieve even as Paul grieved in vs. 17-19. There he said:

17. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

18. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19. whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame who set their mind on earthly things.

*The cross of Jesus Christ has always had ferocious enemies. And it certainly does today. The most extreme and violent enemies of the cross today are the millions of radical Islamists who would kill us in a heartbeat if they could. Of course there are also peaceful Muslims, but you cannot be a peaceful Muslim if you fully follow the teachings of the Koran. That’s the sad truth.

*There are many other enemies of the cross, including radical leftists, atheists, and Christ-haters of all persuasions. But Paul was talking about a different kind of enemy in these verses. He is talking about enemies inside the church, like the “false brethren” Paul mentioned in 2 Cor 11:26.

*The “Believer’s Bible Commentary” tells us that these men could have been the false teachers Paul mentioned back up in vs. 2. These men taught that you had to be circumcised and keep the Old Testament ceremonial law in order to be saved. These enemies could also have included the false teachers who said that God’s grace allows us to live in the most carnal, selfish ways. (2)

*Some Bible scholars believe that these men were in fact Christians, but I don’t see how they could be. Listen again to Paul’s description of these enemies of the cross in vs. 19:

-Their “end is destruction.”

-Their “god is their belly.”

-They glory “in their shame.”

-And they “set their mind on earthly things.”

*These enemies don’t sound anything like true believers. They have been a terrible influence against the cross of Jesus Christ. And Paul grieved over the damage they have done to the cause of Christ. So should we.

*One clear example of this kind of damage is found in our most prestigious universities. Most of them were actually founded to train Christian preachers.

*When Harvard was established in 1636, their statement of purpose said, “Every student’s main aim is to know Jesus Christ, and to recognize that Christ is the foundation of all learning.” When Yale was founded in 1701, they said that “God is the source of all wisdom.” And they required all their students to attend morning and evening [Christian] prayer services every day. Can you imagine the howl, if they did that today? (3)

*What happened to Harvard and Yale? -- They were taken over by enemies of the cross.

*An example closer to home is Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. In 2006, under the long-time leadership of Kirby Godsey, Mercer chose to end its 173-year affiliation with the Georgia Baptist Convention. (4)

*Over thirty years ago, Mary and I attended Macon’s First Baptist Church with Dr. Godsey and his family. He is a very pleasant man, and was highly successful as President of Mercer.

*Mercer had 4 colleges and schools when Dr. Godsey became president in 1979. During his tenure, Mercer established 7 new colleges and schools in business, medicine, engineering, education, theology, music and nursing. He also saw the endowment rise to $200 million with over $200 million more pledged.

-In 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2003, Dr. Godsey was named as one of the 100 most influential Georgians by Georgia Trend Magazine.

-The Macon Chamber of Commerce recognized him in 2003 as the Macon Citizen of the Year.

-In 2006, he was awarded the Salvation Army’s highest honor.

-And in 2006, both houses of the Georgia legislature passed resolutions honoring him. (5)

*But God have mercy on Kirby Godsey! What does Dr. Godsey believe? -- We find out in his book titled, “When We Talk about God, Let's Be Honest.”

*Listen to these notes from Al Mohler’s commentary on the book:

-“Convinced that ‘the message of the Christian faith is not to worship Jesus,’ Dr. Godsey presents a vision of Jesus Christ which avoids seeing him as a ‘larger-than-life religious figure.’ The biblical understanding of Jesus Christ as fully God and fully man is, according to Dr. Godsey, ‘a tragic misunderstanding.’

*As he states, ‘The historical person to be followed was soon changed by his followers into a divine figure to the worshipped. This transformation is largely a mistake. The focus of the Christian faith should not be reconstructed into the worship of Jesus.’ [120]

*This is, of course, a direct rejection of Christ's own claims and the teaching of the New Testament. As the Apostle Paul described Jesus Christ to Timothy, He is ‘the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.’ [I Tim 6:15-16, NASB]

*(But) Dr. Godsey argues that, for the Christian, ‘Jesus is neither a prophet or a god. Jesus is the center of our revelation.’ [119-120] . . .

*Dr. Godsey holds that salvation is not about Christ's work on our behalf, but our recognition that God loves us -- and never held our sin against us. He rejects the historical theories of the atonement as ‘treacherous.’

*(And) Dr. Godsey rejects the understanding of Christ's work as substitutionary. As Dr. Godsey states, ‘Jesus does not come to pay off the heavy penalties for our sin.’ The death of Christ is not of critical importance to our salvation, according to Dr. Godsey. Nor is the cross the focus of God's redemptive plan. As Dr. Godsey argues, ‘Jesus died because people chose to kill him.’” (6)

*Dr. Godsey’s latest book is copyright 2011, and has this question for a title: “Is God a Christian?” In it he writes, “Christians need to get over it. Jesus is not God’s only word. . . Every person is a word from God that has never been spoken and will never be spoken again in exactly the same way.” (7)

*Dr. Godsey is a highly respected, successful, influential leader, but he has used his influence to challenge the core truths of God’s Word. He has used his considerable influence to deny the cross of Christ. And that is a tragedy of monumental proportions. May God have mercy on Kirby Godsey!

*Many deceived people at the highest levels of education and government are trying to lead other people away from the truth.

-But God’s Word is true!

-His Holy Spirit is at work in the world to convince people of the truth.

-And Jesus is Lord of all!

*How can we “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus?” -- Mourn over the enemies of the cross.

4. And remember our God-given end.

*Paul talks about our sure end as believers starting in vs. 20, where he tells believers that “our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

*The KJV says “our conversation is in heaven.” Most of the time this word comes from a word that means “our lifestyle.” But this verse contains another Greek word that means our “citizenship.” Here Paul tells believers:

20. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

21. who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

*Jesus Christ is able to subdue all of His enemies. He is even able to subdue our death and corruption. So Christians: Jesus is going to “transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.” -- Glory hallelujah!

*Listen to part of what Paul said about our resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.

-In vs. 42-44:

42. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body (i.e. the dead body) is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.

43. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.

44. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. . .

-In vs. 50-57:

50. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

51. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed

52. in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory.''

55. "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?''

56. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

57. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

*So “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!”

*In these verses, Paul has shown us some of the ways to do it:

-Ask God to reveal the errors in our thinking.

-Follow our Godly examples like the Apostle Paul.

-Mourn over the enemies of the cross.

-And remember our God-given end.

*Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.

1. Adapted from “Who Was Georgia Barnette?” (Original source unknown)

2. Believer’s Bible Commentary - Philippians 3:15-21

3. SermonCentral sermon “One Nation Under God” by Paul Hammons Psalm 33:12

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercer_University

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleigh_Kirby_Godsey

6. Source: Fidelitas - Comments on News and Issues by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. - When We Talk About Heresy . . . Let’s Be Honest - A Response to When We Talk About God. . . Let's Be Honest by R. Kirby Godsey - www.albertmohler.com/2009/07/16/when-we-talk-about-heresy-lets-be-honest/

7. www.albertmohler.com/2011/06/09/an-unmitigated-theological-disaster-kirby-godsey-strikes-again/

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